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Raiders’ offseason: Fortune favors the bold

Raiders owner Mark Davis should swing big and make a splash hire

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns
Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis is once again afforded the opportunity for a bold move when it comes to his football team.
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Davis has the opportunity swing big and make a splash hire for his Las Vegas Raiders franchise. With an opening at the general manager spot and the Silver & Black looking around at a permanent head coach, the Raiders owner is going to set a new course for his desert marauders.

I’ll say this: Don’t underestimate the Bowl Cut Kid just yet.

Davis is afforded the opportunity to be bold and steer his Raiders into a direction that matches the state-of-the-art Allegiant Stadium the team calls home. Does Davis go for the big hire and haul in a big fish like Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, which in turn may mean giving Harbs autonomous control ala former head honcho Jon Gruden? Will Davis make Rich Bisaccia the man after an impressive finish and playoff appearance for continuity’s sake? Or does he snare a young, up-and-coming prospect like Patriots defensive assistant Jarod Mayo or Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich?

Shoot, there’s even the rumor that Davis could go the way of his pops, Al Davis, and trade for a coach (only this time, it would be trading for one instead of shipping one away), say Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, for instance. Far fetched, but the swirling rumors and conjecture on the Raiders new El Capitan is simply mesmerizing.

Those odds above are quite eye-catching, no? Here’s to hoping Davis goes the audacious route once more. Sure, being dauntless brought upon the return of Gruden and eventually all ... this. But that shouldn’t dissuade Davis from making another intrepid hire(s). Vegas pussyfoot way too much this season and in its postseason appearance and the owner must set the tone in the new era that fortune favors the bold.

So, if Davis’ pick is Harbaugh, make him an offer he cannot refuse and pair him with a general manager of his liking. Then, like he did with Gruden, the Raiders should let Harbaugh and the GM get cracking. Giving Harbs the keys to the Silver & Black kingdom seems very likely to lure him from Ann Arbor, much like how Gruden had final say. If Davis chooses Bisaccia, combine him with a strong personnel man that will make the personnel decisions, but allow Rich B to hire his own coaching staff — if he chooses to do so. God help the Raiders of Greg Olson remains the offensive play caller. Or, if the Raiders owner goes the up-and-comer route, similar situation. Pair the coach with a personnel man who excels as both talent evaluator and roster builder, and let them get to work.

Oh, and if Davis swings a deal for Tomlin, well, damn. That’s all I could say if that happened.

The ball is rolling in Henderson, Nevada in terms of the coach and GM search. Bisaccia interviewed for the gig on Wednesday and the team requested permission to speak with Mayo for the spot. On the personnel front, Vegas is slated to talk to the Patriots’ Dave Ziegler, the Bears’ Champ Kelly, the Colts’ Ed Dodds and the Bengals’ Trey Brown.

There’s one key interval I’d be remised for not mentioning: Will the head coach hire be Davis’ pick or will the selection be the GM’s choice? Davis let former general manager Reggie McKenzie hire the head coach in Dennis Allen. That didn’t sync up much and the next two hiring cycles, Davis was the shot caller.

Who I Like

  • Head coach: Byron Leftwich. He’s sat under the learning tree from the vertically-minded Bruce Arians and has played the all-important quarterback position in the NFL. Leftwich isn’t given enough credit for his work with Arians and the Tampa Bay offense. Also, if there’s a coach who can relate to a the pressure and challenges a quarterback faces, it’s Leftwich. He’s worked with Tom Brady and, yes, while TB12 has barked back and overriding Leftwich’s play calls, having the opportunity to work day-in and day-out with both Arians and Tom Terrific is sharpening Leftwich’s career as a coach and play caller.
  • General manager: Eliot Wolf. This isn’t just because he’s former Raiders scout and executive Ron Wolf — which will likely pull on Davis’ heart strings if he looked Eliot’s way. The younger Wolf has grown under the Green Bay Packers learning tree and is currently a scouting consultant with the New England Patriots. Wolf has an eye for talent and is a young, open-minded personnel man at 39. At that age, he could in place for several years like his pop. Wolf did sit down with the Bears about their vacant GM spot.

Where There’s Smoke

The Harbaugh rumors are only churning out more smoke every passing day. And it’s difficult to ignore said smoke. When there’s smoke, there does tend to be fire and a popular notion of Harbaugh becoming the next Raiders coach is a burning blaze. Add into the fact that the perceived support around Harbaugh would include Dodds (who withdrew from the Bears GM hunt), Pep Hamilton (who declined an interview for the Panthers offensive coordinator gig), and Vic Fangio (free to join any team after getting axed by the Broncos), are available make for quite a coincidence.

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Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

Domino Effect

The general manager and head coach hires will come first (not necessarily in that order, even) but then there’s one big domino to fall after those two: Derek Carr. Another bold decision awaits the Raiders went it comes to their quarterback. Next season is the final year of his five-year deal he signed in 2017 and has no dead cap ramifications if the team were to jettison him (either release or trade). In turn, another contract extension is looming for No. 4. Do the Raiders pony up and hitch their wagon long term to DC4 or make the decision to completely steer the franchise in a new direction by moving on from the signal caller?